Toto, I don’t think we’re in MN anymore!

This last weekend I had the opportunity to travel down to Des Moines, IA for work.  The BF and I were suggested to try out two venues if we had any down time.  Lucky for us we had some and the two venues were right next door to each other, El Bait Shop and The Highlife Lounge both located in downtown Des Moines.

El Bait Shop has (currently) 222 beers on tap, some Iowa craft brews as well as out of state craft brews.  I was extremely eager to visit this establishment as one of my favorite IA beers is “Dorothy” by Toppling Goliath.  Dorothy is their flagship beer, a “California Common” that was named after the founders grandmother (awe).


We discovered Dorothy one night at our local watering hole, Turtles Bar & Grill, more commonly known as simply “Turtles” to us locals!  Ever since discovering this amazing brew out of Iowa, we have had unlucky attempts of securing another pint! So imagine our shock when after our first round at a local Iowa bar we are told that they JUST RAN OUT of Dorothy and we would not be able to sip on this amazing concoction anymore that evening.  I guess we’re just going to have to wait until it makes it on tap somewhere up here!

Fortunately for us, there were definitely plenty of other beers to choose from!

“El Bait Shop” Des Moines, IA. Courtesy of Full Court Press, Inc.

But the question is—how does one choose?  Honestly, as someone who works in the industry, simply ask your bartender!  Tell them what you like and don’t like and they will likely have several options for you to try out.  In our case, we told them that we didn’t want anything dark, overly hoppy, and that they were to be Iowa Craft Beers (excluding Toppling Goliath) as they had plenty of MN Craft Beers on tap that we were already familiar with—and when in Rome, err Des Moines.  Our flight went as follows:

That last one as you may have noticed is NOT an IA brew, but apparently it’s a new brew at the BF’s work and he wanted to try it out.  I’m not a “fruity” beer person, I don’t put fruit in my beer either, but this wasn’t that bad.  It had a sweetness to it that would generally turn me off, but there was also a tartness to it that reduced the sweetness in the aftertaste.

OJ IPA was exactly as they describe it, a good “entry-level” IPA…meaning it wasn’t too overwhelming for the non-IPA drinker such as myself.  Again–not a fruit gal, but the citrus from the OJ really helped me to enjoy an IPA, a very rare occasion!

The Tricycle Cream Ale honestly wasn’t the best cream ale I’ve had, but for the fact that it’s a hybrid of a cream ale, pale ale and wheat ale it had an interesting flavor.  I’d like to try something else by them, maybe their KungFuji Fighting Belgian IPA (I know —a fruity IPA what am I thinking?).

Ruthie was honestly probably my favorite of the four,  a nice golden lager with a nice balance.  Loved the hint of caramel in the taste as the smell of malts and yeast didn’t indicate that little treat! No bitter aftertaste whatsoever!

After our flight and the heartbreak of hearing that the Dorothy line was out, we decided to check out the digs next door.  Whether or not you are a High Life connoisseur, having a High Life at The High Life Lounge is simply required.  Immediately walking in you are thrown back to an era of when High Life was really the “Champagne of Beers”, bowling was the sport of gentlemen and shag, Formica and wood paneling were the on-trend in decor!


The taste brought me back to my youth, the price brought me back to reality…for two beers we paid LESS than one tap at the bar next door!  Even if you only have one beer, be sure to visit The High Life Lounge next time you’re in Des Moines, the nostalgia alone is totally worth it — and the price will barely dent your wallet!


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